The Invisible Footnotes of EU’s Media Control Directive

It’s been out for a while, but hasn’t got much attention, except from some debates in a small group of dedicated journalists. I’m talking about the proposal for a new EU directive that will empower the EU government with authority to regulate the media industry, decide what is good journalism and punish those who do not agree with that definition. It is said to be aimed at protect media freedom and media pluralism, and may do so in some countries, but the new media authorities that is under way can just as easy do the exact opposite. What is most alarming, however, is that the very idea of any government trying to regulate journalism goes against everything the profession once stood for.

“I really can’t take this serious, so I won’t.”



I really can’t take this serious, so I won’t. Below is the full list of recommendations that the EU leaders now are considering, including the non-offical footnotes of the original document that somebody must have forgotten to erase…..

Recommendation:The EU should be considered competent to act to protect media freedom and pluralism at State level in order to guarantee the substance of the rights granted by the Treaties to EU citizens, in particular the rights of free movement and to representative democracy. The link between media freedom and pluralism and EU democracy, in particular, justifies a more extensive competence of the EU with respect to these fundamental rights than to others enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Should we really use the word “competent”? You didn’t exactly make it easier for us, Mr. Barroso, when you declared that EU had survived the financial crisis back in 2010…

Recommendation: For improving the functioning of the Single Market, further harmonisation of EU legislation would be of great benefit. Currently, the existence of divergences between national rules can lead to distortions in the framework of cross-border media activities, especially in the online world. It would be particularly important to adopt minimum harmonisation rules covering cross-border media activities on areas such as libel laws or data protection.

It would be soooo nice if all the media, all the journalists and all bloggers and twitters and everyone out there on the internet all over the whole Europe would write what we tell them to. It would make our job soooo much easier…

Recommendation: European and national competition authorities should take into account the specific value of media pluralism in the enforcement of competition rules. They should also take into account the increasing merging of different channels of communication and media access in the definition of the relevant markets. In addition, the High Level Group calls upon the European and national competition authorities to monitor with particular attention, under competition policy, new developments in the online access to information. The dominant position held by some network access providers or internet information providers should not be allowed to restrict media freedom and pluralism. An open and non-discriminatory access to information by all citizens must be protected in the online sphere, if necessary by making use of competition law and/or enforcing a principle of network and net neutrality.

Competition seems to have resulted in more meaningless nonsense and less journalism so far, now we’re going all the way: No journalism. Not even in social media!

Recommendation: National competition authorities need to make (or commission) pro-active regular assessments of individual countries’ media environments and markets, highlighting potential threats to pluralism. At the EU level, there should be pro-active market assessment under competition policy in the form of a sectoral inquiry.

Former Prime Minister of Italy, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, will form a task force with the mandate to organize these assessments, followed by dinner and visits to the local night clubs.

Recommendation: Media literacy should be taught in schools starting at high-school level. The role media plays in a functioning democracy should be critically assessed as part of national curricula, integrated either with civics or social studies.

So, now we’re gonna teach our children the correct way to read a newspaper.

Recommendation: EU political actors have a special responsibility and capacity in triggering European news coverage. The Presidents of the EU institutions should regularly organise interviews with a panel composed of national media from across the EU. This format would have the advantage of not only increasing national coverage of EU affairs but also making that coverage more pluralist, since the interviews to be broadcast or printed in the different Member States would include questions from journalists from other Member States.

No, we are pretty sure that “Panel Composer”….is not a protected title. Get back to you on the one….

Recommendation: Media freedom and pluralism should play a prominent role in the assessment of accession countries. A free and pluralist media environment must be a pre-condition for EU membership.

We recommend a minimum of 16 national newspapers as a standard qualification for EU membership.

Recommendation: The EU should raise the issue of journalistic freedom in all international fora where human rights and democracy are discussed, including as part of trade/partnership agreements and in the context of provision of aid.

Hey, you Greek nazis! Here’s your Golden (Dawn) opportunity: We give you the right to advertize your crazy bullshit, and you support whatever government we set up there… Is it a deal?

Recommendation: To reinforce European values of freedom and pluralism, the EU should designate, in the work programme and funding of the European fundamental rights agency, a monitoring role of national-level freedom and pluralism of the media. The agency would then issue regular reports about any risks to the freedom and pluralism of the media in any part of the EU. The European Parliament could then discuss the contents of these reports and adopt resolutions or make suggestions for measures to be taken.

Think about it: A dedicated force of loyal mediapolicemen- and women… It must be every politicians dream!

Recommendation: As an alternative to the mechanism suggested in the previous Recommendation, the EU could establish an independent monitoring centre, ideally as part of academia, which would be partially funded by the EU but would be fully independent in its activities.

Something like the CIA, yes… I guess? Mrs. Ahston?

Recommendation: To evaluate the manner in which media consumption patterns are changing, as well as their social impact, comprehensive longitudinal studies are needed at the EU level. More broadly, the EU should provide sustainable funding for academic research and studies on the changing media environment, in order to provide a solid academic basis for policy initiatives in this field.

Of course. The first thing you do before committing a crime is to make sure you have an alibi… We’re not stupid!

Recommendation: Any new regulatory frameworks must be brought into line with the new reality of a fluid media environment, covering all types of journalistic activities, regardless of the transmission medium.

And that goes for your Facebook status, too!

Recommendation: Journalist and media organisations should adapt their codes of conduct and journalistic standards to the challenges posed by a rapidly changing media environment. In particular, they should clearly address questions of source verification and fact checking, as well as transparently regulating their relationship with external sources of news.

First rule of journalism: you never check a good story. If everybody did that, there would be no good stories, so now there will be no more good stories. Except for the objective financial news stories syndicated by SIX News, a part of the financial conglomerate, SIX Group,  who also happens to be an IT provider, and at the same time selling investments products and lending people money to buy them….Switzerland, what can we do?

Recommendation: In order to give complete transparency as to how individualised a service is, services that provide heavily personalised search results or news feeds should provide the possibility for the user to turn off such personalization, temporarily for an individual query, or permanently, until further notice.

Yeah, can’t wait to tell that to the Google-people…

Recommendation: Channels or mechanisms through which media are delivered to the end user should be entirely neutral in their handling of this content. In the case of digital networks, Net Neutrality and the end-to-end principle should be enshrined within EU law.

This is going to make all the ISP’s, cabel-TV providers and cellphone operators extremely happy – we’re now all one big family! And that’s not all: Apple and Microsoft will probably have to merge if they still want excess to the great European markets!

Recommendation: There should be streamlining and coordination of support and funding for quality journalism, as already exists in several EU countries. Europe-wide awards should be made available for talented journalists and those having made significant breakthroughs. An additional study should be commissioned on possible new forms of funding for quality and investigative journalism, including making use of new technologies such as crowdfunding.

Streamlining and coordination of support and funding…Hey, what does that pluralism-thing really mean? And how do we define quality journalism? Our media expert and consultant, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi explains…

Recommendation: Any public funding should only be available for media organisations which publish a code of conduct easily accessible to the public (including on their site).

Journalism have had a code of conduct for about 200 years…not that anyone cares, but why not start  publishing it? Every day? It’s great PR! Just keep it short and simple…

Recommendation: Any public funding to media organisations should be given on the basis of non-discriminatory, objective and transparent criteria which are made known in advance to all media.

Absolutely no discrimination! Just as long as the following criteria are met: No negativity, what so ever. Only pure objectivity. (As described in EU Directive #76782).

Recommendation: In order to build up cadres of professional journalists competent to operate in a rapidly changing media landscape, or to offer them the possibility to do investigative journalism, journalistic fellowships should be offered to both entry-level and and mid-career candidates who could take leave from their media organisations. Universities and research centres should set up positions for journalists in residence under such fellowships to be funded by the EU. The selection of the journalists would be done by the academic and scientific institutions themselves. The fellowships would be particularly valuable for investigative journalism, or for training journalists to mediate between complex subjects such as science, technology, finance or medicine and the wider public.

The EU administrations will also fund the positions of communications experts at the universities, in order to present the findings of the investigative journalists to the public.

Recommendation: The provision of funding for cross-border European media networks (including such items as translation costs, travel and coordination costs) should be an essential component of European media policy. Support for journalists specialised in cross-border topics should be included in such funding.

Yes, almost like the banks cross-border financing. (a sophisticated way to avoid taxes, and take advantage of the different regulations in the different countries).

Recommendation: Attention is called to national journalism schools and university professors for the possibility of applying to the Jean Monnet programme to support curricula and teaching on coverage of European issues. The Commission should be especially pro-active in informing journalism schools of this possibility and consider this area one of the priorities in the selection procedure under such a programme.

Great idea! We make pro-EU journalism mandatory. That should ensure the future.

Recommendation: There should be a provision of state funding for media which are essential for pluralism (including geographical, linguistic, cultural and political pluralism), but are not commercially viable. The state should intervene whenever there is a market failure leading to the under-provision of pluralism, which should be considered as a key public good.

Perhaps it’s too late for that? Oh, what the heck! Silvio! Rupert! You’re back on!

Recommendation: To ensure that all media organisations follow clearly identifiable codes of conduct and editorial lines, and apply the principles of editorial independence, it should be mandatory for them to make them publicly available, including by publication on their website.

Haven’t we recommended that, already?

Recommendation: All EU countries should have independent media councils with a politically and culturally balanced and socially diverse membership. Nominations to them should be transparent, with built-in checks and balances. Such bodies would have competences to investigate complaints, much like a media ombudsman, but would also check that media organisations have published a code of conduct and have revealed ownership details, declarations of conflicts of interest, etc. Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status. The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values.

The local media sheriff – authorized with the right to make sure that you remain silent…forever!

Recommendation: A network of national audio-visual regulatory authorities should be created, on the model of the one created by the electronic communications framework. It would help in sharing common good practices and set quality standards. All regulators should be independent, with appointments being made in a transparent manner, with all appropriate checks and balances.

The producers of software and electronics can’t agree om common standards – why should any regulatory authorities? By the way: We also recommend that all  porn should be made available in 3D.

Recommendation: Any public ownership of the media should be subject to strict rules prohibiting governmental interference, guaranteeing internal pluralism and placed under the supervision of an independent body representing all stakeholders.

Hmm…to get governmental funding you have to apply to certain rules set by the government, who is strictly prohibited from interfering……. I’m not sure I understand….how are we gonna spin that one?

Recommendation: All EU countries should have enshrined in their legislation the principle of protection of journalistic sources, restrictions to this principle only being acceptable on the basis of a court order, compatible with the constitution of that country.

However, Brussels is no longer to be considered EU country and we may continue hunting down those damn whistleblowers….

Recommendation: Access to public sources and events should depend on objective, nondiscriminatory and transparent criteria. This ought to be notably the case with regard to press conferences, with electronic means used to broaden out these events to a wider audience where practically possible.

Thank Heavens! Finally, we can rid of those obnoxious know-it-all’s that always ruins every good influential press conference we’re trying to make… Let’s all have a nice chat, okay?  🙂

Recommendation: Member States should ensure that appropriate instruments are put in place for identifying those responsible for harming others through the media, even in the online space. Any internet user-data collection necessary for this purpose, however, should be kept confidential and made available only by a court order.

And by appropriate we mean; phone-tapping, wire-tapping, hacking into your computer, reading your emails and check what kind of websites you surf on the net….

Recommendation: Compulsory damages following court cases should include an apology and retraction of accusations printed with equal positioning and size of the original defamation, orpresented in the same time slot in the case of radio or TV programmes. In addition to this and to a legally-imposed right of reply, it should become accepted as responsible practice among news media to also publish retractions and corrections of wrong and unverified information on the simple request of citizens providing justifications to the contrary. Any such retractions and corrections should be published with the same relevance as the original coverage when the correction of the potential harm done by such false information so justifies. Any public funding should be conditional on the inclusion of such provisions in the code of conduct of the media organisation.

This is the front page of Daily News, covered with a thick black headline:

WE CORRECT: EU Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, did not say that he was going to the IMF during a press conference six months ago in response to a question about how his plans for a new million-euro office building was going. Mr. Van Rompuy actually said: “I’m f…..ed.” We apologize for the misunderstanding.

And with tiny letters at the bottom of the page:

World Leaders Meet to Discuss Break-up the European Union (Page 17)

Related by econoTwist’s:


All Human Rights Reserved (h) 2013


104 thoughts on “The Invisible Footnotes of EU’s Media Control Directive

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